My specific research interests lie in how our memories change when they are stored, particularly during sleep. I’m investigating why some memories lose specificity and become more generalized schemas while other memories maintain high fidelity representations. In other words, sometimes it’s useful to just remember general patterns while other times it’s better to recall every detail of an event. How does our brain decide how to store a memory and can we influence that process during sleep?
Sleep and Memory Reactivation
What is happening in our brain during sleep? Researchers know that sleep helps maintain and strengthen memories, but the process still isn’t well understood. My research focuses on how memories are consolidated during sleep and how we can influence the process. We use a method in which people learn spatial locations associated with sounds. Participants then take a nap in lab and we play those sounds during their sleep. Our research shows this cueing actually strengthens the memory for later recall.
Sleep Restriction and Attention
During my sophomore year at the University of Texas Austin, I joined Dr. David Schnyer’s Learning and Memory Lab, where I completed a longitudinal study of chronic sleep restriction (think getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night) and its effect on cognition.
To read the published research click here.
Lucid dreaming is when you’re in a dream and know you’re in a dream. You often have control over characters in the dream and can sometimes give yourself abilities like flying or breathing underwater. My lab wants to understand more about how the brain reacts when people know they are in a lucid dream and whether we can train people to reach this state.